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The Political Ontology of Martin Heideggerby Pierre Bourdieu
Synopses & Reviews
Martin Heidegger's overt alliance with the Nazis and the specific relation between this alliance and his philosophical thought—the degree to which his concepts are linked to a thoroughly disreputable set of political beliefs—have been the topic of a storm of recent debate. Written ten years before this debate, this study by France's leading sociologist and cultural theorist is both a precursor of that debate and an analysis of the institutional mechanisms involved in the production of philosophical discourse.
Though Heidegger is aware of and acknowledges the legitimacy of purely philosophical issues (in his references to canonic authors, traditional problems, and respect for academic taboos), Bourdieu points out that the complexity and abstraction of Heidegger's philosophical discourse stems from its situation in the cultural field, where two social and intellectual dimensions—political thought and academic thought—intersect.
Bourdieu concludes by suggesting that Heidegger should not be considered as a Nazi ideologist, that there is no place in Heidegger's philosophical ideas for a racist conception of the human being. Rather, he sees Heidegger's thought as a structural equivalent in the field of philosophy of the "conservative revolution," of which Nazism is but one manifestation.
“Bourdieu is a sociologist with a remarkably wide range of competences, and his short book on Heidegger, published before the recent revelations of the philosophers devoted commitment to Nazism through and beyond the defeat of the Third Reich, is a brilliant contribution to what is now called ‘contextualization (i.e., of Heideggers thought). Richard Rorty dismissed Heideggers Nazism on the ground that it had nothing to do with his philosophy; no reader of Bourdieus book will be able to continue to believe this for a moment.”—Common Knowledge
“Bourdieus book is the single most illuminating contribution to an understanding of the social and political meaning of Heideggers work. It is extremely stimulating in its methodology, which is an outstanding model of a sociological approach to philosophy, and in the light it casts on the current debate over Heidegger and Nazism. Bourdieus book stand apart from the other books and articles on the political implications of Heideggers philosophy.”—Jean-Joseph Goux, Brown University
About the Author
Pierre Bourdieu is Professor of Sociology at the Collège de France and Director of Studies at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales.
Table of Contents
Preface; Introduction: skewed thinking; 1. Pure philosophy and the Zeitgeist; 2. The philosophical field and the space of possibilities; 3. A 'conservative revolution' in philosophy; 4. Censorship and the imposition of form; 5. Internal readings and the respect of form; 6. Self-interpretation and the evolution of the system; Notes; Index.
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